Greenshoots is a network that connects people from across the diocese who are wanting to take environmental action. With over 50 people now in the network, there are so many exciting stories to share, lessons to learn and experiences to exchange.
Whether you are working towards Eco Church awards, or just thinking about where to start on this journey, being part of Greenshoots can support you along the way. The network is a forum for people to exchange questions and ideas over email, and it also meets online once a month, to hear from external speakers and from parishes about their activities. Greenshoots Network host Alison Riggs gives a flavour of some of the topics and ideas discussed this summer.
In July’s get-together, we heard how St Mary’s North Leigh are planning steps towards their gold Eco Church award, and St James the Greater Eastbury had booked an energy audit. St Mary’s Shaw shared how they had declared a climate emergency using the Climate Emergency Toolkit resources, and St Michael’s, Tilehurst, told us they are working with others locally on some tips for reducing plastic, which will be shared in due course.
A question was asked about churches that already generate their own power. We shared some helpful resources and case studies from the Church of England Environment Programme, including renewable energy generation as well as other net zero adaptations. This came up again in August, with a focus on solar panel installations.
In the August meeting we started with some very helpful information from the Revd Mark Nelson on starting and running a Repair Café, and a 20-minute recording of this part of the evening and our Q&A with him afterwards are available to watch on demand. Mark strongly recommended joining the Repair Café movement as he found their start-up pack useful and good value. Mark has offered to share his experiences with anyone interested in starting a Repair Café - we can be contacted via the Winslow Benefice.
St Mary’s, Wendover, shared their experiences of moving to a new energy supplier in these extremely challenging times, as their contract was ending. Volatility in the market means decisions have to be made quickly, so their approach was to ask the PCC to delegate the decision to the energy standing committee. This meant fewer people had to sign off the quote by an email vote on the day the quote came in. For those churches struggling with energy bills, a list of energy savings tips for churches is on our website.
Nature, wildlife and biodiversity
Wildlife-themed updates included one from St Mary’s Shaw. They shared how a lack of a regular mowing contractor and a talk by Flower Farms has inspired them to work with the parish council to consider creating a wildflower meadow in part of their closed churchyard. St James the Greater are keeping up with their churchyard butterfly surveys for the Upper Thames Valley Butterfly Conservation Trust. We had a request from St Paul’s West Wycombe for suggestions on how to best make a wildlife pond out of their old Belfast kitchen sink (see some tips here). We heard news of encouraging progress made by St Frideswide’s, Water Eaton, on an agreement with their local council for them to take over some land near their churchyard as a community garden. Also, a number of churches represented had, or plan to shortly, put up bird and bat boxes. Either the free ones we were offered for Oxfordshire churches (St Mary’s, North Leigh and St Peter’s, Aylesbury) or, at St Peter’s, Burnham, their Men’s Shed group have been busy making their own bird and bat boxes. Caring for God’s Acre is a great source of churchyard wildlife advice.
St Peter’s, Aylesbury, told us about a recent visit from their MP, who had asked to visit their community garden and was very impressed by this and their community café and foodbank. All Saint’s, Wokingham, joined for their first get-together with us and told how their church climate group is planning ways to get their whole church talking about environmental issues during Creationtide (1 Sept to 4 Oct) and also considering registering for the Eco Church scheme.
If any of these topics or conversations have inspired you to join Greenshoots, then do email the Environment team and Alison will add you to the network. We look forward to even more mutual support and ideas-sharing going forwards.